I recently wrote a post about the GAPS Diet and gave an overview of the program and some resources to access. As I said in that post, my three year old daughter and I have been following the program since February 2012 for various health reasons. I decided that no good overview would be complete without talking more about the healing and successes that have happened.
Although talking about my little girl would be much more fun for me, I am saving the best for last and will do a separate blog post on her to celebrate our successes in her healing.
So today…you get to hear about me. Don’t fall asleep!
I am 39 years old and can truthfully say that I have never been in good health. As a child, I remember being sick frequently and having lots of tummy troubles. I grew up eating my Grandma’s yummy home cooking but it was still full of immune system busters like white flour and white sugar, juice, etc. I was frequently on antibiotics as far back as I can remember. I have always been “low energy”, and I had sinus infections that were only resolved with antibiotics on a monthly basis. I muddled along, tired all the time and sick all the time. The older I got, the worse it got. I eventually gained a lot of weight and had a tough time losing it. In 2002, I gave birth to our oldest daughter via C-section. Two years later, I delivered our son, also via C-section. After his birth, my energy levels sunk to an all time low. I was sick alot and generally felt like I had the flu all of the time. I continued to have alot of gut issues but it kind of blended in with everything else that was going on. The more I doctored, the more depressed I became because no one was finding ANYTHING out and I really started to think I was having some mental health issue or dreaming it all up. I was on antibiotics for about two weeks out of every month. My whole body hurt, in addition to those constant flu-like symptoms. My vision became much worse and my focus deteriorated by about 50% of a six month time period. At the age of 35, I had the eyesight of a 60 year old. My gut issues got worse and I would have periods of unexplained extreme abdominal pain and vomiting. I was tested for lupus, RA, you name it, and nothing panned out. In the meantime, I continued to still have the same family responsibilities with two small children, and I continued to work full time, although most days looking back I felt like I barely could put one foot in front of the other… And I started to think that this was what I had to look forward to in life, and was scared for the future…
To make a long story short, one night early in January 2008, I started having extreme pain and vomiting, landed at the ER. I had a CT scan and found out that I had a large surgical sponge that had been mistakenly left around about two feet of my small intestines during my last C-section for almost four years. It had encapsulated itself – created it’s own “organ” – my guess is that this strange happening and the continual antibiotics probably kept me alive over that time. Anyhow, one partial C-section later…I did feel a little better. But never to the point that I had before, and even that wasn’t all that good. I am certainly not blaming all of my health issues on this but it didn’t help.
I like to think of that whole time period as a blessing from God. Things could have been so much worse. My kids could have grown up without a mother, and my husband could have been a widower. But, I firmly believe that the Good Lord has other things for me to do…and for that, I am grateful, and never angry about that experience. It has truly been an important part of my own personal growth.
So…post-sponge. My pain levels got a little better, my thyroid antibodies improved a little almost immediately. I didn’t feel like I had the flu all the time…which was really really…nice. I was still really tired, had a fair amount of pain all over and was still sick alot. And when I was sick…no matter with what…I DID feel like I had the flu. Which was very much unappreciated for this busy mama. But life was a little better.
In March 2009, I had my last C-section and gave birth to my littlest peanut. My pregnancy was tough and exhausting, and I chalked it up to “being older”. Before and after I had her, and even while I breastfed her for over a year, I pretty much lived on sugar and junk and had uncontrollable cravings for anything sweet. Which further contributed to the demise of my immune system, and gut issues, as well as hers. I only wish I had known then what I know now!!!
All three of my kids have had alot of chronic allergies and asthma since they were infants. My son used to meet the insurance deductible by the beginning of March due to all the meds he was taking, and all of the clinic visits. At one point a few years back, out of desperation, I started reading about natural healing, toxins, diet, etc. We started tweaking things in our family diet, adding organics, eating real food, reducing sugar, reducing household toxins, and started feeling collectively a little bit better. But not enough. I began seeing our chiropractor who also started helping me with some nutritional education…and it helped. I eventually did some testing for adrenal fatigue (which I had), and did hair sampling to detect nutritional deficiencies, heavy metals, etc. I found that I was storing heavy metals – as I would suspect that alot of people who get a flu shot, drink pop or use conventional deodorant do – because my body was unable to keep up with needed detoxing.
In April 2011, my two youngest children and I began seeing an integrative physician nearby. He diagnosed me with leaky gut syndrome and systemic yeast issues. I did food allergy testing and a blood/urine based nutritional evaluation that was extremely telling. I had multiple food and environmental allergies. I had some severe nutritional deficiencies, in spite of eating pretty clean and well overall, because my gut was such a mess that I was simply unable to use what I was eating. He put me on a course of antifungal medications, some heavy duty probiotics and an immune system building supplement and told me to eliminate white flour, white sugar and potatoes from my diet.
So I did…and life got much better. I was no longer sick with sinus infections every month. The candida/yeast that he was treating had colonized in my sinus area – and the antifungals took care of that temporarily. However, anyone who has battled systemic yeast knows that they DO NOT DIE EASILY. Any small amount of starch, sugars, etc., will feed them and keep them going, and me…sick. I also learned eventually that my food allergies were triggering my pain and fibromyalgia like symptoms. I quit eating the offending foods, and my arthritis diminished down to nothing. If I ate the foods, I hurt for three days. Anytime I attempted to quit the antifungal med, I got sick. I was on the antifungals for almost a year and I realized just how tough that is on your liver. I knew that I couldn’t do that forever. My little girl and I were both in the same situation, and after alot of research (months!) we started GAPS.
So…thanks for bearing with me but I think it is important to see where I was before versus where I am now:
**After 10 days on the Intro diet, my gut was healed enough to eat my food allergens without triggering pain, sinus problems, environmental allergies, etc. (Please note that I did not have severe or life threatening allergies, just lots of moderate and mild) Really cool improvement right out the gate…
**My pain levels have stayed at a minimum. Some days I have a little but it is very very tolerable comparatively.
**Lots of energy. Even days when I haven’t gotten optimal sleep due to a waking three year old…
**No more brain fog. Nice to have my memory back!
**Super cool: I LOST 10 POUNDS IN TWO WEEKS WITHOUT EVEN TRYING! (your body runs on fat and not carbs on GAPS) **once I started eating raw fruit, that ended for awhile and now I have lost a couple more pounds recently…
**I sleep better at night (except when said 3 year old wakes up)
**My skin has far fewer acne breakouts. In fact, my skin as a whole looks younger and is softer (I’ve always struggled with very very dry scaly skin since childhood).
**My eyesight has improved a little bit. As per the eye doctor. I can’t wait until next time I go for a checkup to see what that brings!
**My mood is better…
**My gum health has improved, and some tooth pain that I had is better. Oh, and my teeth are whiter!
**One thing that I don’t appreciate quite as much is how chemically sensitive and sensitive to cigarette smoke I have gotten. In a world of perfumes and fabric softener, it isn’t so much fun. But I do think that it means something…
**I’ve been sick once since we started GAPS. And it was BECAUSE of a prolonged exposure to perfume and cigarette smoke.
**I’m not as stuffed up from environmental allergies as I used to be. I am still a little bit, but I hope that at some point, that goes for good.
**And the thing that conventional medicine will tell you is IMPOSSIBLE: my thyroid levels have improved. The proof is in the blood work. My integrative physician feels that at some point, my body might even heal enough to go off my meds.
Not bad for five months, hey? Can’t wait to see where we are at after two years!!!
Five years ago, I was depressed about my crummy health and equally crummy quality of life. Now I feel great. What did I do? I took charge of my own health, and you can too! Don’t be complacent if you are having any of the symptoms that I had and think that this is just “what happens” – when we get older, when we’re run down, because of “heredity”, whatever. We don’t have to be sick! When you cut your finger, you cover it and wait and it heals. Our bodies as a whole are capable of great healing, and I like to think of the GAPS diet as one very large bandaid! And it has totally been the “nudge” I needed… Healing doesn’t happen overnight but it does happen if you put in the effort!!!
This post was shared at: Cooking Traditional Foods Traditional Tuesdays; Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays; Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesdays; Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays; The Tasty Alternative’s Allergy Free Wednesdays; The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter; The Liberated Kitchen’s GAPS Friendly Fridays; Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays; Real Food Freaks Freaky Friday ; The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania;.